How to apply your skincare products in the right order

Skincare steps

Skincare steps can be confusing but we have some tips for you. Image via Adobe Stock.

Let’s be honest – figuring out the correct way to apply skincare can be a little confusing. With so many options for skincare products these days it’s hard to know what you should be spending your money on and what products are necessary. Some people like to go the whole nine yards (or should we say eight yards) with a full eight-step skin care routine, which usually goes – cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, spot treatment, moisturiser, face oil and sunscreen. But for a lot of beauty consumers, this can sometimes be unreasonable and a little on the extravagant side. As a self-confessed skincare junkie myself, a good skincare routine is important to me, but even I don’t use the complete eight-step regime all the time.

As a Beauty Editor, I have learnt a lot about skincare ingredients during my career and I like to think that I have honed my routine to encompass the most important ingredients for my skin. Looking after your skin doesn’t have to mean spending a great deal of money on eight different products, instead, choosing the most efficient products that will work together to give your skin the nutrients it needs to be healthy. So, I have broken each skincare step for you and the correct order for them to be applied, so you can decide for yourself a skincare routine that best suits your personal needs and the correct order to apply them.

1. Cleanser
Cleansing your face is one of the most important steps in a skincare routine. The purpose of cleansing your skin is to remove makeup, dirt and impurities from your skin. If you don’t remove your makeup before applying skincare products then you’re wasting your time. Ingredients won’t absorb into the skin properly if the skin is dirty. Your skin needs to be free from oil and grime for skincare ingredients to work their magic. Here is a pro tip: if you are using a makeup wipe to remove your makeup – STOP. Makeup wipes can leave behind a layer of residue that can break you out. They also usually contain chemicals that are harsh and will strip essential natural oils from your skin, and they are terrible for the environment. Swap out the makeup wipes for a gentle oil cleanser instead, (these can also come in the form of a pre-cleanser). An oil cleanser will dissolve makeup and dirt without stripping your skin. If you have acne-prone skin, you can double cleanse with a creamy cleanser to get a really good clean. Bear in mind that double-cleansing is only one step in your skincare routine.

2. Toner
Toners usually come in the form of a spray and are used after cleansing. Using a toner is optional in your skincare routine and not totally vital. The purpose of a toner is to essentially prime your skin so that the following skincare ingredients you apply will be better absorbed into your skin.

3. Serum
Serums – in my opinion, are the holy grail of skincare ingredients. Serums can work wonders for your skin. Think of them as an intense shot of nutrients, hydration and antioxidants for your skin. The two main contenders (in my opinion) are Vitamin C serum – best used in the morning. Vitamin C will brighten your skin and reduce dark spots as well as protecting it from inflammation and free radical damage. Hyaluronic Acid is another of my favourites – this is best used at night to hydrate your skin while you sleep. Again, serums are totally optional but a great option for added nutrients for your skin.

4. Eye creams
Ok, so eye creams are heavily debated in the beauty world as to whether they are really that beneficial or unnecessary. Eye creams are usually a lighter and thinner consistency to moisturisers and obviously, designed to just be applied around the eyes. In my opinion – an eye cream is more of a luxury item than a necessity and if you are going to opt for an eye cream, choose a product that has a metal applicator or a roller ball to apply the product. If you pop the product or the applicator in the fridge, the coolness of the metal can help to depuff and soothe around your eyes.

5. Spot treatment
Ideally, if you need to use a spot treatment, you’ll want to use it at night as this is when your skin works hardest to repair itself. Spot treatments can be used to treat acne spots, scarring, dark spots and pigmentation. Again, a spot treatment is optional but a great option if you suffer from any of the above afflictions. Make sure to dab your spot treatment on before you use your moisturiser and let it absorb and dry a little before applying the moisturiser over the top.

6. Moisturiser
Just like with a cleanser a moisturiser is vital in a good skincare routine. You should always use a moisturiser after cleansing, even if you don’t use the above ingredients, twice a day to keep your skin hydrated. If you use other skincare products before your moisturise, the moisturiser will lock those vital nutrients into your skin to make them more effective. Make sure to let your moisturiser sink in before applying anything else on top – especially makeup.

7. Face oil
Face oils are occlusive, meaning they seal in all of the other skincare ingredients, which means that if you are using a face oil during the day, it should go on second to last, before your SPF or the last step in your skincare routine at night (an SPF isn’t needed at night). Face oils don’t really give any extra hydration to the skin, instead, they seal in all of the other ingredients and act as a barrier for the skin because oils can easily penetrate serums, moisturisers and treatments but no products can penetrate an oil. Face oils can also have beneficial ingredients to nourish the skin and in fact, even if you have oily skin, certain oils, such as Rosehip Oil or Jojoba oil can help to decrease oil production in acne-prone skin.

8. Sunscreen
Sunscreen is the final step in your daytime skincare routine. Just like with cleansing and moisturising, using sunscreen is a vital step – not optional! You should always use an SPF of 30 or higher every day to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays – even in winter and even if you are indoors. UVA rays can penetrate glass and clouds so your skin is still prone to damage on those cloudy or rainy days.

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